Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Problem With The AIPAC Conference

Jeffrey Goldberg opines. The conference seems to be even worse than usual -- a decreasingly pluralistic celebration of an increasingly greater abstraction, an increasingly unreal place. Bernard Avishai, using scare quotes to denote that Jerusalem is now the epicenter of that unreality, wonders about the "hole in the heart that backing Netanyahu over 'Jerusalem' seems to be filling."

Detroit's Post-Industrial Cash Cow


Friday, March 19, 2010

The Gay Terrorist Who Might Have Stoped 9/11

From The Week:

Who is the "gay terrorist"? An Iraqi Arab named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir and described as "enigmatic but jovial...tall as a mushroom, fat and gay." He worked as a VIP greeter for Malaysian Airlines.

It seems that the CIA basically tried to blackmail him into becoming a mole, which raises the question - just how bad is Al-Qaeda's gaydar?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WTF of the Day

Betsy McCaughey for NY Sen? (Almost makes sense if the Republicans really want to make HCR repeal the central issue of the 2010 campaign...)

March Meshuges


Tough Economic Times in the Ivy League

Yale's polo team forced to downsize.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Behaving Like Teenagers?

LA Jewish Journal's Rob Eshman explains how when Mom & Dad (i.e. US and Israel) got in a fight, "organized American Jewry copped an attitude."

Shout-Out To Congressman Tim Walz

Last week I was in DC for the HCAN rally and march... and after the rally we went to visit some CT reps in the Cannon office building (we also took some pictures of each other making obscene gestures in front of the placard for Michele Bachmann's office suite, which happens to be right across the hall from John Larson's, but I digress). In between meetings we went down to the basement cafeteria for a quick break, and Congressman Walz (DFL-MN), who just happened to be passing by, came up to a few of us who were sporting HCAN stickers on our clothing and started thanking us profusely for showing up in DC to promote HCR. Always feels good to be acknowledged. Keep up the good work, Tim!

Shakespearean DNA


Monday, March 15, 2010

W's "Green" Presidential Library

Dallas Morning News: "The center's 23-acre tract will include native plants and sophisticated conservation measures, such as a wetland and underground cisterns to catch and recycle most rainwater. The building, made of Texas materials over cast concrete, will get nearly 10 percent of its electricity and all of its hot water from solar energy." On behalf of tree-huggers everywhere, I would just like to thank W and Glenn Beck for all their support of environmental sustainability and green jobs.

Socrates and the Fat Rabbis

"What kind of literature is the Talmud? To answer this question, Daniel Boyarin looks to an unlikely source: the dialogues of Plato. In these ancient texts he finds similarities, both in their unique combination of various genres and topics and in their dialogic structure. But Boyarin goes beyond the typological parallelism between the texts, arguing also for a cultural relationship. In 'Socrates and the Fat Rabbis,' Boyarin suggests that these dialogues are not dialogic at all. Using Michael Bakhtin’s notion of represented dialogue and real dialogism, Boyarin demonstrates, through multiple close readings, that the give-and-take in these texts is actually monologic in spirit. At the same time, he shows that there are other elements that manifest genuine dialogicality. Boyarin ultimately singles out Menippean satire as the most important genre with which to understand both the Talmud and Plato, pointing out their seriocomic peculiarity. An innovative contribution to rabbinic studies, 'Socrates and the Fat Rabbis' makes a major contribution to scholarship on the discursive and cultural practices of the ancient Mediterranean." Book rec of the day.

"More Durable Than 'The Old Man of the Mountain'"

New Hampshire remembers Granny D, who walked across the country at 89 years old to promote campaign finance reform. Touching Nashua Telegraph obit here. Her friend and co-author Dennis Burke's eulogy here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The New Buddhist Atheism

A form of non-religious religion that even Hitchens can live with.

The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World

"In response to the coming impact of peak oil, John Michael Greer helps us envision the transition from an industrial society to a sustainable ecotechnic world—not returning to the past, but creating a society that supports relatively advanced technology on a sustainable resource base." Book rec of the day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"The Rosenfeld"

New unit of measurement for power NOT used due to energy efficiency improvements. (See also nega-watt.) H/t Revkin.

Material Culture of Breweries

"From antique beer bottles to closely guarded recipes and treasured historic architecture, brewery culture has a special place in American history. This fascinating book brings the material culture of breweries in the United States to life, from many regions of the country and from the early productions of the sixteenth century to today’s industrial operations. Herman Ronnenberg, a historical archaeologist and brewery expert who participates in major brewery clubs and publishes regularly on the topic, offers something for everyone from scholars to casual beer aficionados. He traces the evolution of techniques, equipment, raw materials, and architecture over five centuries, discusses informal production outside of breweries, and offers detailed information on makers marks, patents, labels, and beer containers that allows readers to identify items in their own collections. Well illustrated with photographs and drawings, this book will be popular with collectors and general readers, and essential for those working in historical archaeology, local history, material culture, and related fields." Book rec of the day.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Recipe For Defacement of Federal Property

Reagan to replace Ulysses S. Grant on $50 bill?

UPDATE: Is it good for the Jews?

Gentile Soirees

MJ Rosenberg has spent the whole day on twitter attacking Marty Peretz for a dismissive comment about anti-Israel leftists attending "gentile soirees." Here is just a sampling:

My paternal grandfather was a gentile.Is that chopped liver, people? #p2
37 minutes ago via I just counted. of my closest friends, 14 are gentiles. And yet. no invite to gentile soirees. Yes, I'm pissed. #p2
38 minutes ago via Peretz was a TA at Harvard 4 30 years Maybe it's a Harvard thing (no gentile soirees 4 him or tenure track either). #p2
39 minutes ago via Was GOP convention a "gentile soiree" plus JOE & Hadassah. #p2
41 minutes ago via Problem is. If you are a lib Dem, there are no "gentile soirees" or "straight soirees" either. That makes us Dems. #p2
42 minutes ago via FLASH. Just told "gentile soirees" don't have African-Americans in attendance. My bad. #p2 #ISRAEL
43 minutes ago via

My son Peter is a bigshot in hiphop world. Goes to lots of events where he's only white guy. Are these "gentile soirees?"
44 minutes ago via

Milton Friedman Is Chile's New Bicycle

Bret Stephens recently made the argument in WSJ that while Milton Friedman personally abhorred 'socialistic' building codes, he and his pal Augusto Pinochet were largely responsible for the prosperity of Chile's economy that enabled the country to enforce the tough building codes which helped to sustain most post-1970s buildings in the recent earthquake. Got that? Paul Krugman responds here.

UPDATE: Naomi Klein piles on.

"A Racist Fantasy"


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Capitalism And The Jews

"The unique historical relationship between capitalism and the Jews is crucial to understanding modern European and Jewish history. But the subject has been addressed less often by mainstream historians than by anti-Semites or apologists. In this book Jerry Muller, a leading historian of capitalism, separates myth from reality to explain why the Jewish experience with capitalism has been so important and complex--and so ambivalent." Book rec of the day.